Saturday, May 30, 2015

Getting the politics out of politics...

Lloyd Doggett, while in the Senate of Texas, once commented during a debate that you can’t take politics out of politics. Senator Joan Huffman of Houston, however, seems to be trying.

For several decades the public integrity unit of Texas has resided in the district attorney’s office of Travis County. This special unit has successfully investigated and prosecuted numerous complaints of official misconduct. The unit was placed where it is because more often than not most official conduct at the state level arises in the capitol city.

Over the years, the unit has prosecuted far more Democrats or their appointees than Republicans.  Among them have been two speakers and an attorney general.

Republican politicians are now whining because Rick Perry was indicted by a group of 12 citizens for abusing his power. Perry, in an attempt to force the local district attorney to resign, threatened the use of his power of veto to punish the then-officeholder of Travis County. Had he threatened to beat her up if she didn't resign, his wrongdoing may have been more clear to citizens than it is now.  Nonetheless, it was still a threat to use his power to attempt to force another officeholder to bend to his will.

It seems Huffman’s scheme would be as political--or moreso--than the present system.  In the Huffman plan, instead of having alleged misconduct reviewed by a panel of 12 reputable citizens, the conduct would be referred to a group of Texas Rangers selected by one person, appointed and serving at the will of the governor. Thus selected, if the Rangers thought necessary, the case would be referred to the home county of the accused official. If the hometown boys perchance indicted the official, the case would then be referred to the local district attorney in the home county of the official. This would be the case even if the criminal conduct occurred in some other county such as Travis County, Austin, Texas.

Apparently, several senators favoring the Huffman method have lost sight of the conduct of a Republican activist occurring just a few years ago. Several thousands of dollars were allegedly misused in connection with the election process. The then-Republican-controlled Ethics Commission let the offender go free because the money allegedly misspent in violation of the election laws of Texas didn’t count since he didn’t use cash--he only sent out checks. This is the type partisan, political mischief Huffman is inviting.

The most recent great hypocrisy among Republicans occurred in the last election cycle. While they demanded loudly for the district attorney to resign because she pled guilty to a DWI charge, in the same election cycle they elected a politician attorney general who had recently admitted to conduct which amounted to a third-degree felony. 

It seems as difficult to take politics out of politics as it is to take hypocrisy out of politics.

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